White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday defended the Obama administration's decision to pursue an appeal in a federal case challenging “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 17-year-old that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.

A federal judge in September ordered the U.S. Air Force to reinstate Major Margaret Witt, a flight nurse who was discharged in 2006 for violating the policy.

U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton found that the government had not proved that Witt's sexual orientation had negatively impacted her unit's morale or cohesion as it had asserted.

The Witt decision followed on the heels of a California court's ruling that found the policy in violation of the constitutional rights of gay troops. A decision the government has appealed.

In a statement released moments after the Witt filing, Gibbs defended the administration's actions.

“This filing in no way diminishes the president's – and his administration's – firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year,” Gibbs wrote. “Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy. In recent weeks, the president and other administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”

On Monday, Gibbs joined a growing chorus of leaders warning that the failure to legislatively repeal the law during the lame-duck session would leave courts to decide the issue.